19 June 2013

Scraping Down to Soften Edges in an Oil Painting

I recently came across a technique, called "scraping down", in a short video by Marc Delassio.  I tried it last weekend during a portrait painting session. I like the results it produced.

Maryam, 11x9", oil on linen
Here's what I did:

I started by painting a quick portrait of the model in about 40 minutes.  I got the big shapes down and used plenty of paint.  I added the lips and large eye shapes, but not too much detail.

Next, I scraped down the image.  The video shows how.

Then I softened all the edges with my fingers.  This produced a gauzy, and surprisingly accurate, portrait.  My mind's eye filled in the blanks. 

I spent the rest of the session adding back a few hard edges, adjusting shapes and values and painting in the details.

It actually sped up the process and allowed me to get more done during the session.  And I like the results it produced.  I could have worked the edges better, but I was starting to get bored...needed to move on.

10 June 2013

Charcoal and White Chalk Portrait Drawing

This portrait, of one-year-old Nicholas, was drawn with charcoal and white chalk on toned paper.  I've posted similar drawings in the past (here, here, and here.)  Charcoal/white chalk drawings are straightforward as long as you keep value relationships and shapes accurate.  Great practice for value control.  And you can get fairly convincing modeling of the form much faster than with graphite. It's an old technique that never looses it's charm.  And it's fun.


I used Wollf's carbon 2B and 4B and General white chalk pencils on Strathmore 400 Artagain Steel Gray paper, which has a nice tooth. Drawn free-hand from a photo, it measures 12"x9" and took about 12 hours to complete.

I was inspired to do this portrait after seeing an article on this technique by Scott Waddell in the Spring 2013 issue of Drawing magazine.  Scott used graphite and white chalk in his demo, but charcoal works just as well.  Choose a paper with a value approximating your halftones.  Model the light side with chalk and the shadows with charcoal. That's it.